Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recipes: Holiday Menu

I am so looking forward to having two of my favorite people fly all the way out here from San Francisco to spend xmas with me and my husband (and all our animals)! They fly in Xmas day, and leave after new year's so we're sure to have a great week together! And what kind of southern housewife would I be if I didn't cook for them every night? I'm trying to put together a week-long dinner menu in preparation (money's tight so its easier to stay in rather than eat out, though I'm sure we'll be doing some of that too). Here's what I'm thinking...

-Enchiladas - corn tortillas rolled with chick peas, corn, beans, rice, vcheesev, and lots of green sauce
-Chili Boats - hollowed bread bowls filled with chili and topped with fresh veggies
-Taco Plates - soyrizo and black beans, quinoa baked with tomatoes, and fresh veggies on top
-vBurgersv - & Fingerling potato [baked] fries (my husband's specialty)
-Pasta - whole wheat noodles for added protein, sauteed jalapenos and onions, red sauce and toast
-Potato Leek Soup - blended creamy potato base with diced leeks, onions, garlic and parsley
-Orzo with Pesto - I love orzo pasta, great in soups too, but with pesto its great, w/side salad
-Gnocchi - my new favorite homemade recipe, as test-driven for thanksgiving. yum! (and last but not least... my favorite:)
-Salads & sweets- load up on a lot of homemade sweet treats (mousse, fudge, brownies, cookies, or vice creamsv) and chase them with a hearty big bowl of fresh veggies and berries.

I'll try to take pictures as I cook! We're sure to have a feast! I can't wait to welcome my California BFFs to Texas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recipes: Santa's Coming to Town


I baked and decorated vegan sugar cookies the other night with one of my BFFs and it was so much fun!
Cookie recipe found HERE (along with frosting recipe).
Sprinkles were clear, and pink (dyed with beets).

I also attempted my first vegan version of rumballs, which are alright, but next time I will try to make more of a fudge/hybrid... because though they are delicious, they are more cookie than the truffle texture I was hoping for.

Another tradition that I have finally revived, is the christmas clove ball. I used to make these with my mom as a kid and they smell so good. I made mine with a small satsuma orange and a bottle of whole cloves. And of course, what Xmas is complete without Silk Nog and Cheap rum?

I'm ready for you Santa... three more days.

Philosophy: It always comes in Waves

Lately I've been feeling bombarded by more omnivore's pushing their dilemmas my way and try to either budge me from my vegan views as an attempt to shatter a lifestyle (my own), that makes them feel guilty for not being strong enough to also adhere to, or to make me explode with vegan vengeance. All vegans are different, and for me I've found the most productive way to help others learn about cruelty-free living is to do just that- be cruelty-free. Be kind, and sometimes that means suffering through pretending to feel comfortable around meat eaters, to assimilate into their "norms" rather than trying to push them to assimilate into mine. And I generalize, apologies, this is indeed a rant. Letting off steam, not everyone who is a carne is like this.

Growing up with all omni's as I trekked through life holding true to my believe system (I was lucky enough to have a liberal open-minded family who let me pursue my own way of life- re: veganism), and moral codes of respect for animals, and later to learn the benefits of a vegan lifestyle also for the planet, and for not just animal but human health... I've learned to keep my lips sealed. To stay quiet and be the "nice" vegan who can get along with everyone. So often I've felt like the black sheep surrounded by otherness, and whenever I speak up those others seem to jump on the chance to test the fact that I am different, I am vegan. An incredibly small number of people who I am friends with are vegan (though I hope to meet more!) and none of them are apart of my daily life. I'm lucky to hang out with another vegan once every 6 months or so (I need to change this), and so time and again I feel like its just "easier" to shut up and be thankful I at least have friends,  meat-eating people, who graciously go along with eating the vegan meals I cook for diner parties. Its not like my meat-eating friends eat ribs and steaks around me, so I'm not offended by corpses and smelly death meat on their plates and breaths when we hang out... but I really hope to find more vegans to spend more time with. Its just not the same.

As I've grown older and more independent I have felt more confident in sharing my beliefs, knowledge in my cruelty-free lifestyle, and constantly search for better ways to improve my life by lessening my global footprint, and not inflicting harm on others. I have learned to say what's on my mind more, though its not always received well, and even those voiced opinions seem to be censored out of respects for offending omnis.

And why do omni's feel the need to defend their meat consumption to me? Or to guiltily confess that they just can't give up meat, or that they can't be healthy as vegetarians/vegans? Does it make them feel better to talk to a real, true vegan and explain why they are suffering through their moral dilemma of what they know is wrong, and yet what "tastes so good" to them? It all seems to come in waves, and pile up like a bad car accident on the freeway. One of my husband's work friends was laughing as I told the story of how we adopted our dog, (she's a rescue we found on craigslist, heart worm positive, and was found on the side of the road, almost dead weighing only 40lbs... now she's healthy at 90lbs, heartworm free and part of our forever family). As he laughed in my face, he told me, "I just don't like animals."

I am more than happy to help educate people willing to learn more about how I go about my daily life, by not consuming meat or animal products, why I chose and choose to live the way that I do, and how I feel about the planet and why its important to respect her and all her life forms. But if you feel bad about how you live your life, don't come making up excuses to me, or acting all shocked when I open my mouth and start up the conversations that you asked for.

Vegan friends... where are you? Can't anyone relate to me???

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dining: Movie Concessions

I love going to the movies! And as a vegan my experience may be different than those who associate buttery popcorn, milk chocolate candies and bon bons with movie theaters... or so you may think. Most theaters do offer vegan popcorn (as long as you hold the butter topping-which many times  contains no real butter or animal products either). I like to eat mine covered in Nutritional Yeast, so unless I remember to stash a plastic bag full in my purse, I usually don't order any- even though I can.

Depending on what kind of vegan you are, you may or may not consume artificial colors (Red 40 is rumored to be derived from beetles, though I'm not entirely sure how true that is), hydrogenated oils (that most theater popcorns are drenched and cooked in), or artificial sweeteners and refined sugars (which many times are filtered through bone char, though no animal products are IN the sugar, they are used to process them).

Though I try to steer clear of all of the above due to health reasons (rather than vegan ones), I will indulge on the occasional conventional candy treat. Especially for the nostalgic sake of only eating them when I'm at the movie theater. The following are offered at most theaters and [depending on what kind of vegan you are] vegan friendly:

Mike & Ikes, Hot Tamales, Red Vines, Dots, Lemonheads, Airheads, Mambas, Jujy Fruits, Swedish Fish, Twizzlers, Black Licorice, Sour Patch Kids, And of course Sodas, Slushees, Juices, Black Coffee, Teas... to name the ones off the top of my head.

The article below also claims that Skittles have dropped their gelatin ingredient and gone vegan as of this year (2009) making them movie-snack friendly for vegans, but I'm unsure of the validity. It would be exciting to find the truth in it though, since I haven't had skittles since before I was vegetarian (over 18 years ago). I used to love skittles! Here's the article I found on VegNews with the Skittles mention and their info on vegan-movie theater food.

My local favorite, is The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. It is an amazing cinematic experience for anyone who loves movies, beer on tap, and eating in comfy theater chairs in almost complete darkness (if you're like me, remember not to wear a white shirt). They also screen many old favorites and cult classics for sing & quote-along nights, along with screening new releases. Its my all time favorite place to see movies in Austin.

Going to the movies wouldn't be complete without snacks, and their full-menu would agree. Their menu offers french fries (that are vegan), a falafel plate, salads, hummus and veggies with pita wedges, chips and salsa, and a few other items that are or can be made vegan upon request. For nights I don't feel like a beer I highly recommend their homemade brown sugar lemonade. So good! Their menu also offers movie-themed specials, and my all-time favorite was the Plomeek soup they served while Star Trek was in theaters (and as we all know Volcans are Vegan! just like their delicious version of Plomeek soup. mmm good).

They also offer regular theater candy- Mike & Ikes being the only vegan option, though they buy in bulk and fill up take-out boxes that are easy to eat out of and give you your money's worth. Everything I've mentioned above is brought to you while you remain seated. Just write your order on a piece a paper and slip it in the slot in front of you to alert their waiters to server you- its brilliant!


Lastly for the health-nuts out there who prefer not to indulge in the movie junk food, stashing a zip lock bag of dried fruit, nuts, organic dark chocolate (which is sold at some theaters), or panda licorice is a healthier (and vegan) alternative for satisfying your movie-munchie needs. Now I want to go to the movies!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Philosophy: Holiday Gift-Giving

Cruelty-Free Gifts for everyone this year! Here is a link with suggestions, passed along to me, via Thought I'd share it here too: Compassion Over Killing

And one of my ABSOLUTE favorite places to shop for gifts is through Etsy. handmade original crafty gifts abound on, and here is the link to their: vegan etsy team of sellers

You can also just search, "vegan" on etsy's home page and find tons of vegan goodies that way too!
 here's that link: Etsy search results for "vegan"

Get crafty this year. Make your own gifts and/or support independent artists & artisans while supporting animal welfare too!

 Happy Holidays!